- vol.9, pp.33-60, 2006
This paper aims to shed light on the discourse of "destiny" in the era of Japan's industrial revolution, and to explore the implicit and explicit relations which it has to other discursive entities and to the contemporary social arrangement. In order to do so, I chose to focus on poet Ishikawa Takuboku (1886-1912), and to trace the change of his thought on "destiny" during his life. During the period of social change in the Meiji Restoration, risshin shusse (climbing up the social ladder) was commonly accepted as the most important idea. The Meiji youth were expected to struggle for it. In the early twentieth century, risshin shusse, which was encouraged by the substantial economic growth of the time, impelled the Japanese ambitious youth to strive for their own "success" (seikou), and this word acquired a new meaning that built up a fortune. However, the stabilization of social order and frequent recessions in the second half of the Meiji led most of them to failure. In such circumstances, those people who escaped from fierce competition for acquiring money or status emerged one after another. They were called "anguished youth" (hanmon seinen). It was thought that their excessive aspiration had to be cooled down so as to calm their anguish. Therefore, a large body of literature focusing on "cultivation" (syuyou), which advised the youth to conduct themselves impeccably, was published. This useful literature helped the youth to set suitable objectives for their social position. As the capitalist economy rapidly developed, the discursive space whose folk terminology consisted of words such as "success", "anguish", "cultivation", etc., was built up. During the radical changes in the world during this time, people participated in it, and used this terminology as a compass to find the way to their goal. Nevertheless, it is clear that the discursive space reflected an ambivalent attitude toward life. The characteristics of it are made explicit in the usage of the ward unmei ("destiny", or, "fate"). In those days many people insisted that they ought to "carve out their own fortune" (unmei no kaitaku) ; on the other hand, many books, which claimed that they held, m "the secret of success" (seikou no hiketu), were published. Takuboku was an ambitious young man of the Meiji era who lived in the discursive space. Therefore, his attitude to destiny was ambivalent. It follows from this that the investigation into his thoughts on destiny elucidates the significant characteristics of the discursive space in the era of Japan's industrial revolution.